We kick off THRIVE @MoAD community day on Saturday, April 30 with free admission and an afternoon discussion & demonstration steeped in the history and tradition of the Mbira, the ceremonial instrument of the Zimbabwean people.
Across the globe, museums are increasingly recognized as having a role to play in personal and social well-being that is complementary to the healthcare industry. Studies have shown that engagement with art and culture aid in brain function, processing trauma, and to reducing the stigma of mental health. Museum of the African Diaspora and Kaiser Permanente are committed to increasing access to the positive health outcomes of arts engagement and providing resources on overall well-being for our community.
***EXTENDED APPLICATION PERIOD*** New Submission Deadline – June 1, 2022
Diaspora Stories Project is a 2-part paid program where Bay Area youth explore their identities in relation to their diaspora stories and influence the future of museum youth programming.
This summer, MoAD invites 20 dedicated Bay Area students from grades 10, 11, and 12 who are committed to documenting diaspora stories in the Bay Area. During their participation, the youth will work collaboratively with Black art professionals on learning, investigating, and exploring their connection to their individual stories through the lens of digital photography and podcasting.
The youth are paid $17/hour, plus a transportation stipend. The summer program, including training, will occur between June 20, 2022, and July 22, 2022, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, from 11:30 am - 3:30 pm. Work is completed in-person and virtually with a culmination event held at the Museum of the African Diaspora.
Open to rising 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade Bay Area students
NEW Submission Deadline
Tuesday, June 1, 2022 5:00 pm.
Students will be notified Friday, June 3, 2022 via email
NOTE: By submitting this application, you are committing to attend: Monday, June 20th - Friday, July 22, 2022
Extension: Out of the 20 summer participants, a select cohort of 10 youth continues to develop and shape the MoAD Diaspora Stories Project throughout the year.In addition, the cohort forms the MoAD Youth Council to define youth programming and contributes to the general direction of the museum. The group meets weekly for 8 months for workshop sessions, interviews, and to develop and run museum programming. This component of the project starts on September 12, 2022 and ends on June 25, 2023.
On both summer and year-round projects, the sessions are facilitated by Teaching Artists, the Senior Education Program Manager, and the Education Program Coordinator.
Sponsored by The NBA Foundation and San Francisco Unified School District
Once again, an all-star lineup of artists from across the African diaspora have come together to support MoAD with this exclusive auction open only on Artsy from Thursday, April 28th to Thursday, May 12th. Featured artists include Amoako Boafo, Jerrell Gibbs, Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, Erica Deeman, Basil Kincaid, Lavar Munroe, Angel Otero, Adama Delphine Fawundu, Ferrari Sheppard, and many more! Proceeds benefit MoAD, the artists, local and national art & social justice organizations.
Bidding will be open exclusively on Artsy and will close on Thursday, May 12th at 2:00pm PDT (5:00pm EDT).
MoAD is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and plays a vital role in the local arts community. MoAD is uniquely positioned as one of the few museums in the world focused exclusively on African Diaspora culture and on presenting the rich cultural heritage of the people of Africa and of African descendant cultures across the globe. The Museum of the African Diaspora opened to the public in 2005 and is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Laylah Amatullah Barrayn
Adama Delphine Fawundu
Woody De Othello
Dr. Fahamu Pecou
Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe
Nyugen E. Smith
Barbara Earl Thomas
Anthony Meier Fine Arts
Arthur Roger Gallery
Claire Oliver Gallery
David Castillo Gallery
David Klein Gallery
Et al. Gallery
Jac Forbes Gallery
Jenkins Johnson Gallery
Jessica Silverman Gallery
Mariane Ibrahim Gallery
Matthew Brown Los Angeles
Patricia Sweetow Gallery
Rena Bransten Gallery
Engage Symposium: Transcending Boundaries in Contemporary African Art was inspired by the two main gallery exhibitions of the Fall 2021 - Spring 2022 Exhibition Season at MoAD and focused on the art of Amoako Boafo and Billie Zangewa. The event featured scholars, artists, curators, and art writers who joined us for insightful conversations centered on the changing aesthetics, themes, and art markets for contemporary artists from Africa. The day began with a keynote address from independent curator and writer Natasha Becker, the inaugural Curator of African Art at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
Thank you to everyone who participated in Engage Symposium 2022. The conversations were electric, timely, and gave us so much to think about.
Watch the Event
10:00 – Opening – Keenan Webster – Kora Player
10:10 – Welcome – Monetta White & Demetri Broxton
10:15 – Keynote – Natasha Becker
10:45 – Session 1 – Case Study: A New Generation of Ghanaian Figurative Painters
Elena Gross (Moderator)
Accra, Ghana is rapidly becoming one of Africa’s major art hubs. The capital city of Ghana has birthed art stars for decades, most recently Amoako Boafo and our guest Annan Affotey. A large number of Ghana’s emerging artists are working in a distinctly figurative style. This panel will examine where Ghana’s figurative painters are studying and how they are influencing the future of the genre.
11:35 – Tour - Sedey Gebreyes leads a tour of Amoako Boafo & Billie Zangewa
12:10 – Session 2 – Decolonizing Aesthetics in Contemporary African Art
Ekow Eshun (Moderator)
One cannot discuss contemporary African aesthetics without addressing the impact of colonialism, de-colonialism and post-colonialism. Until very recently, the western world held tight expectations for artists from Africa and the African diaspora to produce work falling into narrow categories of aesthetics. Often artworks produced by Africans were expected to maintain close ties to traditional arts and cultural practices. As collectors, galleries, and scholars have embraced a wider range of aesthetic production from contemporary African artists, the variety of art work being shown is expanding exponentially. This panel will examine the changing aesthetics in contemporary African art and the promise of an African canon which is divorced from Eurocentric expectations.
1:00– Session 3 – Contemporary African Art and Emerging Art Markets
Ayodeji Rotinwa (Moderator)
Touria El Glaoui
The international market for contemporary African art has seen an explosion in the past five years, contributing $13 billion in revenue toward the global economy in 2018. While art fairs such as the 1:54 Art Fair founded by Touria El Glaoui in 2013 have played a major role in the international thirst for contemporary African art, the continent is also seeing an increase in its own markets, with several galleries and art fairs opening up all across the continent. This panel will explore the role of the art markets both inside and outside of Africa and how this is spearheading more artists and galleries to remain on the continent.
1:50 – Adjourn & Virtual Networking
Born and raised in South Africa, Natasha Becker is the inaugural curator of African art at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, joining the Museums in December 2020. Working in both Cape Town, South Africa, and New York City, over the past decade, she has focused on presenting the work of African artists, African American artists, and artists of the African diaspora, organizing numerous exhibitions and international initiatives. She worked at the Clark Institute for seven years as the Assistant Director for Mellon Initiatives and, more recently, as co-curator at the new Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice Art Gallery. She has also served as a curatorial adviser at the Face Foundation, curator in residence at Faction Art Projects in Harlem, and senior curator at the Goodman Gallery in South Africa. Natasha is one of the cofounders of Assembly Room, a curatorial platform for the advancement of women curators and artists in New York. She holds a master’s in African history from the University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa, and studied art history at Binghamton University, New York.
Elena Gross (she/they) is the Director of Exhibitions & Curatorial Affairs at Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco and an independent writer and culture critic living in Oakland, CA. She received an MA in Visual & Critical Studies from the California College of the Arts in 2016, and her BA in Art History and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2012. She specializes in representations of identity in fine art, photography, and popular media. Elena was formerly the creator and co-host of the arts & visual culture podcast what are you looking at? published by Art Practical. Her research has been centered around conceptual and material abstractions of the body in the work of Black modern and contemporary artists. She has presented her writing and research at institutions and conferences across the U.S., including Nook Gallery, Southern Exposure, KADIST, Harvard College, YBCA, California College of the Arts, and the GLBT History Museum. In 2018, she collaborated with the artist Leila Weefur on the publication Between Beauty & Horror (Sming Sming Books). The two performed a live adaptation of their work at The Lab, San Francisco. Her most recent writing can be found in the publication This Is Not A Gun (Sming Sming Books / Candor Arts). Elena is the co-editor, along with Julie R. Enszer, of OutWrite: The Speeches that Shaped LGBTQ Culture, forthcoming from Rutgers University Press in March 2022.
Larry Ossei-Mensah uses contemporary art as a vehicle to redefine how we see ourselves and the world around us. The Ghanaian-American curator and cultural critic has organized exhibitions and programs at commercial and nonprofit spaces around the globe from New York City to Rome. Ossei-Mensah is also the co-founder of ARTNOIR: a global collective of culturalists who design multimodal experiences aimed to engage this generation’s dynamic and diverse creative class.
Ossei-Mensah is the former Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator at MOCAD in Detroit. Ossei-Mensah currently serves as Curator-at-Large at BAM, where he curated the NY Times heralded the exhibition Let Free Ring in January 2021. He recently organized with Magali Arriola and Christina Li, Art Basel’s first every curated online viewing room - OVR: Portals.
This fall, Ossei-Mensah co-curated the 7th Athens Biennial with OMSK Social Club. In 2019, Ossei-Mensah co-curated Coffee, Rhum, Sugar& Gold: A Postcolonial Paradox with Dexter Wimberly. Amoako Boafo: Soul of Black Folks is his second exhibition at MOAD.
Annan Affotey was born and raised in Accra, Ghana. After graduating from Ghanatta College of Art and Design winning Best Student of Still Life, Best Imagination and Composition, and Best Abstract Drawing awards, Annan joined the Revolution Art Organization and displayed his work in several group and solo exhibitions in Accra. In 2013, Annan helped found the African Young Artist Organization (AYAO), an organization dedicated to supporting African youth in the arts through programs and exhibitions. Annan lived in Wisconsin from 2014-2019 and currently lives in Oxford, UK.
Ekow Eshun is Chairman of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group, overseeing the most prestigious public art programme in the UK, and the former Director of the ICA, London. He is the author of Africa State of Mind, nominated for the Lucie Photo Book Prize, and Black Gold of the Sun, nominated for the Orwell prize. He has contributed to monographs and publications on artists including Mark Bradford, Chris Ofili, Kehinde Wiley, John Akomfrah, Wangechi Mutu and Amoako Boafo, as well as to books including Masculinities: Liberation Through Photography; Between Worlds: Voyagers to Britain 1700-1850, Seen: Black Style UK. Eshun’s writing has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Financial Times, The Guardian, The Observer, The Independent, Granta, Esquire, GQ Style, Aperture, Wired and L’uomo Vogue. He is a Contributing Editor at Wallpaper magazine and is a member of the Advisory Board of Liquid Blackness journal. He is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from London Metropolitan University.
Moyo Okediji is an art historian, artist, and curator. He is currently a professor of Art and Art History at the University of Texas, Austin. He studied fine arts at the University of Ife, before proceeding to the University of Benin, where he did an MFA in African Art Criticism, Poetry, and Painting. At the University of Wisconsin, Madison, he received a PhD in African Arts and Diaspora Visual Cultures. He has apprenticed with several indigenous African artists working in both sacred and secular mediums including mat weaving, textile designs, terra cotta, shrine painting, and sculpture.
After teaching for several years in Nigeria, Okediji relocated to the United States in 1992. For ten years he was the curator of African and Oceanic arts at the Denver Art Museum. He has taught at various colleges in the United States, including Wellesley College, Gettysburg College, University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the University of Colorado at Denver. He has also exhibited at various places including the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, The Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC,. the Corcoran Center, London, and the National Museum Gallery, Lagos Nigeria. He is the author of books and exhibition catalogues including African Renaissance, Old Forms, New Images in Yoruba Art; and The Shattered Gourd: Yoruba Forms in Twentieth Century American Art.
Ayodeji Rotinwa is a Nigerian writer and critic who covers visual art, culture, social justice and sustainable development. He has been published by the Financial Times, Artforum, Roads & Kingdoms, amongst others. He is Editor at Large for The Sole Adventurer.
Born and raised in Morocco, Touria El Glaoui holds an MBA in Strategic Management and International Business from Pace University, New York. She began her career in the banking industry as a wealth management consultant before moving to London in 2001 where she undertook various business development positions in the Telecom/IT industry. She has spent over five years working between London, various African countries and the Middle East within a business development framework. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Friends of Leighton House, London and a trustee of the Marrakech Biennale.
Touria is the daughter of one of the most revered living Moroccan artists, Hassan El Glaoui. Alongside her career she has organized and co-curated significant exhibitions of her father's work including a major retrospective in Casablanca and Meetings in Marrakech, a joint exhibition with Winston Churchill's paintings hosted at Leighton House in London and most recently, La Mamounia in Marrakech, as part of the 2014 Marrakech Biennale.
In October 2013, she founded 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, held in London and New York on an annual basis. 1:54 has quickly emerged as Europe’s original and leading art fair focusing on contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora
Marcus Gora is co-founder and director of First Floor Gallery Harare, a pioneering international contemporary art gallery with spaces in Harare and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, which since 2009 has been at the forefront of developing local and international audiences and markets for emerging artists from Zimbabwe and beyond. Gora is also manager for Mokoomba, Zimbabwe’s top touring musical group as well as the festival manager for the annual Jacaranda Music Festival (Zimbabwe).
In addition to his formal engagements, over the past 10 years, Gora also consulted as a strategist and adviser on various creative and cultural projects, supporting development and capacity building for emerging talent and creative industry like Ngoma NeHosho (Zimbabwe) and Start with Culture (Germany).
Currently, Marcus sits on the selection committee for Art Joburg formerly FNB Joburg Art Fair and the Jury of the Turn Fund (Germany) and as of 2021 as deputy chairperson of the Board of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe.
Monetta White, a native San Franciscan has strong ties to the city both personally and professionally. In 2007 when she and husband Chef David Lawrence opened 1300 on Fillmore, the duo were excited by the opportunity to help revive the neighborhood through good food and music. For the past ten years, White’s business savvy and passion for food and community continues on with her opening 1300 on Fillmore at SFO International Airport. White manages and oversees all business operations and marketing for the restaurant group. White has been recognized for her knowledge and leadership by the City of San Francisco, for which she served as Vice President of the Small Business Commission. She sits on the board of directors for several non-profit and business organizations including SF Travel.
Keenan Webster will open the day with selections of both traditional West African and original scores on the kora. Keenan has been studying music of the African Diaspora for over twenty years. Born in Nashville, Tennessee, his love of music deepened as a teenager in Los Angeles, where he began his music studies with master teachers from Africa and Cuba.
Keenan performs the 21-string kora, a large calabash cut in half and covered with cow hide with strings traditionally made from thin strips of hide.
Demetri Broxton joined MoAD in January 2016 as the Senior Director of Education. Born and raised in Oakland, CA, Broxton has over 20 years of experience working in the fields of education and the arts. At MoAD, he leads the educational programs that enhance the visitor experience at the Museum. His department connects youth, educators, and the public to contemporary art and artists of the African diaspora. This appointment marks Broxton’s second tenure with MoAD. He previously served as Education Program Manager for MoAD from 2007 through 2010.
Outside of his role at MoAD, Broxton is a practicing fine artist represented by Patricia Sweetow Gallery in San Francisco. He also serves as a board member of California Association of Museums and Bay Area Emerging Museum Professionals. He is an advisor for the SFSU Museum Studies Department and Black [Spaces] Residency. Demetri graduated from San Francisco State University earning an M.A. in Museum Studies with a dual emphasis on Education and Curatorial Practice. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from UC Berkeley with a major in Art Practice and minor in Education.
MoAD Emerging Artist Program invites local, emerging and mid-career visual artists and art collectives to submit proposals for solo exhibitions that reflect the cultural and artistic richness of the African Diaspora. Awardees have the opportunity for a solo exhibition in our galleries.
Since its inception in 2015, the program has provided exhibition space to 20 artists and members of art collectives including Chanell Stone, Angela Hennessey, Indira Allegra, Andrew Wilson, Rodney Ewing, the 5/5 Collective, and many more.
Museum of the African Diaspora is proud to announce 4 new Emerging Artists program awardees
MoAD’s Emerging Artists Program starts each cohort with an open call for Bay Area artists to submit solo exhibition proposals of their work. Competitive proposals present innovative artwork to activate the MoAD Salon. This multipurpose space is the heart of the museum where we hold public programs, education workshops, and events.
For the 2022–23 cohort, 4 artistswere selected to present solo exhibitions. Each exhibition will be on view in the Salon for 10–11 weeks.
The Emerging Artists Program is designed to amplify and support the practices of local, Bay Area artists both emerging and mid-career. The label “emerging” is not an indicator of age or a marker of educational status but an identifier that speaks to the impact a solo museum exhibition can have on an artist’s career at a pivotal moment, offering artists visibility and a platform that will ensure the longevity of their practice. These emerging artists are establishing themselves as important culture-makers to watch.
We are thrilled to be presenting the Emerging Artists Program at MoAD once again, after a long two years of COVID-related uncertainties. EAP is one of the crown jewels of MoAD’s programming and has produced some of the most extraordinary and ambitious exhibitions that the museum has seen. And that is just as true of the new 2022-2023 EAP cohort featuring new work from Cynthia Brannvall, Richard-Jonathan Nelson, Trina Robinson, and Ashley Ross.
— Elena Gross, Director of Exhibitions & Curatorial Affairs
Cynthia Aurora Brannvall: The Threads That Bind March 30, 2022 — June 12, 2022
The Threads that Bind is an allusion to a body of artwork rendered in textiles to evoke memory, presence, labor, trade, industry, slavery, luxury, baptisms, weddings, funerals, gender, and history in the African diaspora. The concept and material of thread creates meaning as an ancestral carrier traveling through time across borders through voluntary and involuntary migration from one body to another. The bind refers to shared experiences of trauma, oppression and perseverance that cohere in black identity.
Richard-Jonathan Nelson: Interlacing Distributed Intelligence/ Noir Care June 22, 2022 — September 18, 2022
The Black body and craft can be intermeshed to depict our western culture's speculative future no matter how foreign the idea of Black craft is outside of the American Low country. Through the hybridizing of traditional craft practices like embroidery, weaving, and quilting along with digital art, the Black body is reimagined as a place for futuristic progress. Thereby creating images of the Black Diaspora far removed from continued historic depiction as servile and without agency, but instead as visual and culturally complex individuals. The work is balanced visually between the dichotomy of Blackness as an expansive unknowable monolithic void and a chromatically intense generator of culture.
Trina Michelle Robinson: Excavation: Past, Present and Future October 5, 2022 – December 11, 2022*
Using early photography and motion picture processes, Excavation looks at the relationship between memory and migration. Robinson’s ancestry is the catalyst for this exploration, but the work also looks at stories of migration and memory outside of her immediate family. In Paul Virilio's The Vision, the author talks about capturing the impression of someone or something rather than producing an exact copy when it comes to creating an image. An ethereal copy is Robinson’s approach when considering the excavation of memories. An exact replica might not be possible, but we can get a glimpse, hold on, and sit with what remains so we can move forward into the future. Hopefully we can move into the future together.
Ashley Ross: 10/27/03 December 21, 2022 – March 5, 2023*
10/27/03 is a body of work that surveys the ways in which experiential dualities can exist within the confines of a religious upbringing. Bringing together staged black and white photographs, familial archive layered works, and installation, this body of work uses photography and personal memorabilia to illustrate ideas about indoctrination and legacy within the black familial structure. Whether through visual allegories or the artist’s personal explorations of religion, each photographic work represents the process of rumination and memory when confronting one’s own former spiritual experience allowing the viewer to contemplate the ways in which we internalize belief systems.
*Exact dates may be subject to change
A selection panel consisting of MoAD staff and other arts professionals (artists, curators, gallerists, collectors, etc.) reviews and scores all submitted proposals.
The following people formed our esteemed 2022-23 Emerging Artists jury.
Michelle Branch Board Chair of SF Camerawork
Brock Brake Owner, Pt. II Gallery
Chanell Stone 2019 Emerging Artists awardee
Elena Gross Director of Exhibitions & Curatorial Affairs at MoAD
Demetri Broxton Senior Director of Education at MoAD
Nia McAllister Public Programs Manager at MoAD
Charlena Wynn Visitor Experience Manager at MoAD
MoAD Emerging Artists is generously funded by Karen Jenkins-Johnson & Kevin Johnson and Westridge Foundation.
About the Program
The Museum of the African Diaspora Poets-in-Residence program was founded in 2018. This program provides writers with opportunities to respond to contemporary art of the African Diaspora and extend the reach of the museum through programming and educational workshops with local high school students.
We host two concurrent writing residencies per year. This year, the four-month residency runs from September 1, 2022 - December 31, 2022.
Residents enjoy flexible, drop-in access to the Museum of the African Diaspora, located in San Francisco, California. For the term of the residency, every resident receives:
A monthly stipend of $1500 (for 4 months)
No-cost access to the museum exhibitions, on-site programs and events
Designated work space
A 10% discount on all Museum store purchases
Publicity for public programs on social media
Staff support for programming
Access to learning more about the work of the Museum of the African Diaspora from curatorial and education staff
The residency welcomes writers to pursue their own writing projects in addition to responding to the artistic collections. The residency does require that writers implement a school-based writing program in partnership with Ruth Asawa School of the Arts. Residencies last for one academic semester or 4 months. The workshops will include at least 6 site visits and one visit with students at the museum. There are also two culminating public programs that are required: a student reading and a poet-in- residence reading.
While the Museum does not retain ownership of any works created as part of the residency, we do require a printed compilation of that work to be preserved within the museum archives and, should work be published by the author in a book form, that the Museum is acknowledged for contributing to the author’s creative process.
Residency applications are reviewed by the Director of Programs, the Manager of Public Programs, and the Spoken Arts Director at the partner school. Acceptance to the residency is determined through an evaluation of the written materials and the innovation within the education project.
Please note: The residency does not include accommodations or meals, so it may be best suited for Bay Area writers; writers from other communities are welcome to apply but are responsible for arranging their own accommodations. We strongly encourage writers from the African diaspora to apply.
Selected Poets-in-Residence will be expected to complete a TB test and Livescan background check (at a MoAD-partner vendor) by September 1 and meet with the partner teacher and poet-in-residence coordinator for community building and brainstorming once during the Spring (possibly online) and at least once at the start of the Fall semester.
Selected residents, along with all MoAD employees, volunteers, and/or agents providing in-person services at MoAD and partner school sites are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19; or if they cannot receive the COVID-19 vaccine due to disability or a sincerely held religious belief will instead show proof of a negative COVID-19 test administered within 72 hours of the first entrance at MoAD or school site and every week thereafter.
2022 MoAD Poets-in-Residence Awardees
2022: Tureeda Mikell, @storymedicinewoman
Tureeda Mikell, to-read-ah, story medicine woman, award-winning poet, mental health advocate, lyricist, Qigong therapist, and U.C. BAWP Fellow. As a survivor of child abuse, her passion for youth’s voices to be heard caused her to publish over seventy at-risk student anthologies from five Bay Area counties via California Poets in the Schools. She has Zoomed or traveled nationally and internationally across five continents, from China, Europe, the UK, to Africa. Tureeda was featured in Octavia Butler’s 70th birthday, Black Panther’s 55th anniversary, Afrofuturism, and the de Young Museum’s Soul of a Nation. Her full-length publication, Synchronicity: The Oracle of Sun Medicine (Nomadic Press), released in February 2020, was nominated for the California Book Award. She is co-author and curator with Elena Serrano of EastSide Arts Alliance, of Patrice Lumumba: An Anthology of Writers on Black Liberation (Nomadic Press), released in January 2021.
2022: Nefertiti Asanti, @electricfl0wer
Nefertiti Asanti is a poet originally from the Bronx and recipient of fellowships from theWatering Hole, Lambda Literary, Anaphora Arts, Winter Tangerine, and PEN America. Nefertiti’s debut chapbook fist of wind won the inaugural Start a Riot! Chapbook Prize. Nefertiti’s work can be found at Foglifter, Apiary, Split Lip Magazine, and elsewhere. Nefertiti serves as prose poetry editor of Stellium Literary Magazine.
Past MoAD Poets-in-Residence awardees
2018: Tongo Eisen-Martin, @_tongogara_
Bio: Tongo Eisen-Martin is San Francisco’s eighth poet laureate. He is the author of the California Book Award–nominated “someone’s dead already” and of “Heaven Is All Goodbyes,” which received a 2018 American Book Award, a 2018 California Book Award, was named a 2018 National California Booksellers Association Poetry Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for the 2018 Griffin International Poetry Prize. Eisen-Martin is also an educator and organizer whose work centers on issues of mass incarceration, extrajudicial killings of Black people, and human rights. He has taught at detention centers around the country and at the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University.
2018: Raina J. León, @rainaleon
Bio: Raina J. León, PhD is Black, Afro-Boricua, and from Philadelphia. She is a mother, daughter, sister, madrina, comadre, partner, poet, writer, and teacher educator. She believes in collective action and community work, the profound power of holding space for the telling of our stories, and the liberatory practice of humanizing education.
She seeks out communities of care and craft and is a member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, Cave Canem, CantoMundo, Macondo, and Círculo de Poetas and Writers. She is the author of three collections of poetry, Canticle of Idols, Boogeyman Dawn, and sombra: dis(locate) and the chapbooks, profeta without refuge and Areyto to Atabey: Essays on the Mother(ing) Self. She also is a founding editor of The Acentos Review, an online quarterly, international journal devoted to the promotion and publication of Latinx arts.
She educates our present and future agitators/educators as a full professor of education at Saint Mary’s College of California. If you want to teach, connect with her on the interwebs!
2019: Alán Pelaez Lopez, @migrantscribble
Bio (from their website): Alán Pelaez Lopez is an AfroIndigenous poet, installation and adornment artist from Oaxaca, México. Their work attends to the quotidian realities of undocumented migrants in the United States, the Black condition in Latin America, and the intimate kinship units that trans and nonbinary people build in the face of violence. Their debut visual poetry collection, Intergalactic Travels: poems from a fugitive alien (The Operating System, 2020), was a finalist for the 2020 International Latino Book Award. They are also the author of the chapbook to love and mourn in the age of displacement (Nomadic Press, 2020). While they are an artist, Alan has also been organizing with undocumented migrants in the United States for over ten years and firmly believes that art is a portal into the future, but which future? That depends on the artist and the ideologies that move them.
2019: Tonya Foster, @fosterpoet
Bio (from her website): Tonya M. Foster is the author of A Swarm of Bees in High Court, and the bilingual chapbook La Grammaire des Os; and coeditor of Third Mind: Creative Writing through Visual Art. Her writing and research focus on ideas of place and emplacement, and on intersections between the visual and the written. She is an editor at Fence Magazine, and at The African-American Review. Her poetry, prose, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Callaloo, Tripwire, boundary2, MiPOESIAS, NYFA Arts Quarterly, the Poetry Project Newsletter, and elsewhere. Tonya is a recipient of awards and fellowships from the Ford and the Mellon Foundations, from NYFA; and has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts and at the Macdowell colony. Her next collections are a cross-genre collection on New Orleans—A Mathematics of Chaos::Thingification (forthcoming from Ugly Presse 2021), and Monkey Talk, a cross-genre series about race, paranoia, aesthestics, and surveillance. She is an Assistant Professor at California College of the Arts.